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Korean Study Tip: Comic Books

Posted by on August 26, 2012

Breaker and Bakuman


If you’re looking to incorporate Korean study into your daily pop culture consumption routine but have a hard time stomaching Korean soap operas, comic books might just be the answer. Because the story is told through dialogue, comics provide the perfect opportunity to observe Korean phrases in action. Also, the written medium always you to see precisely what is being said — something that is not possible when studying by watching Korean TV.

One caveat though: comic books are not as easy as you might expect. Perhaps because of its image as a favorite pastime of the youth, comic-book reading seems like a very accessible, elementary-level foray into the realm of the written word. You will soon realize, however, that Korean comic books are no joke indeed. One can find all manner of phrases in the pages of a comic book: everything from Chinese-derived proverbs to street Korean. The good thing about comics though, is that the amount of dialogue per page is limited. That means that you can still indulge in a satisfying page turn every few minutes. Literature or newspaper articles on the other hand, can easily turn into a super slog-fest that sees you turning a page every half hour or even worse, depending on the content.

My recommendation with reading-comprehension work in general would be to try to adhere to a rule of only looking up one word every two pages. If you let yourself run wild with the dictionary, you’ll end up looking up so many words per page that you never make it through a book and you’ll soon lose interest. The important thing with any study method is continuing on, even when the going gets tough. Do yourself a favor and keep your feet to the fire. You can always come back and re-read the book in a few months anyway.

I always jot down every new word or phrase I come across. In the beginning stages of Korean, however, every phrase I encountered was new to me. I often got bogged down trying to make a record of every verbal curiosity. To arrest your slip into the morass of insatiable vocabulary avarice, triage your note-taking. Impose limits on how much you take down. The-more-the-better logic doesn’t pan out when you’re drowning in a vocabulary flood of your own making. You can only memorize a max of 20 or so new words per day, so make ’em count. Just highlight the words you don’t know, and come back for them later.

Here are a few comic books I recommend:

The story of two high-schoolers trying to make it as professional comic book writers.

A homegrown martial-arts series.

미스터 초밥왕
The story of a boy on a quest to become Japan’s greatest sushi chef.


3 Responses to Korean Study Tip: Comic Books

  1. Henrik Chai

    I realize I’m commenting on an old post, but I just found your site and I really like it. I was wondering if you could recommend any of the 웹툰:s available on naver or daum?

    It’s been almost three years since I left Seoul, so my access to Korean book stores is quite limited.

    • Michael

      Hi. Sorry for the late response.
      Actually, I spent some time looking for web-toons that I could study with on my iPad or over the Internet but never found anything that was quite right. If you have an Apple device, I know that there are a few apps. Try searching the App Store. Hope that helps.

      Thanks for stopping by the site!


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